- Karene-Anne NathanielKarene-Anne NathanielThe University of the West Indies at St Augustine
Elma Francois (1897–1944) was renowned for her Afro-Caribbean activism against the deplorable living conditions of the poor in the British colonies of the English-speaking Caribbean. She led many public demonstrations to highlight the plight of persons living in poverty. She made her greatest contribution as one of the first women in the trade union movement in Trinidad. Francois worked as a community organizer in grass-roots communities, educating persons about the importance of exercising their voices. Her approach to community organizing followed what has been taught about Jane Addams’ Settlement House Movement, where she immersed herself in communities and built strong relationships with members so she could really understand their plight and so gain their trust. Unlike Addams, Francois was from a very deprived background and was not formally educated. She is renowned as the first woman to be charged and acquitted for sedition in Trinidad during the rise of the trade union movement.